Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Nonlinear Active Beam Solver Software (NLABS)

Technology #5182

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Carlos E. Cesnik
Managed By
Drew Bennett
Associate Director - Software Licensing 734-615-4004

Design Issues for Structures and Vehicles with Aeroelastic Behavior

The development of new generation high-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles (HALE UAVs) has introduced various types of challenges to aircraft designers. Very long operation times demand particularly high aerodynamic, structural and propulsion efficiencies, and these requirements are defined in the context of rather unconventional overall design requirements. The aeroelastic characteristics of this class of aircraft are characterized by complex nonlinear interactions between the large deformations of the flexible structure, the local unsteady transonic aerodynamics, and the vehicle flight dynamics. This has resulted in an important need within the finite element analysis software market (> $2M) for a numerical simulation environment that is able to handle complex problems like full aircraft transonic aeroelasticity.

Finite Element Method Software for Nonlinear Analysis of Composite Structures

A complete solution framework for numerical analysis of 3-D nonlinear dynamic behavior of slender structures has been developed by the researchers at the University of Michigan. The proposed software is able to model complete aircraft configurations by providing geometrically nonlinear finite-element solutions of high-order active/composite beams in mixed form. Besides the four classical beam degrees of freedom, the code allows for an arbitrary number of section modes that brings the ability to model quasi-3D behavior of composite slender structures with embedded piezoelectric material. Also compatible with commercial Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools for model creation, this finite element method based software can easily handle advanced analysis of a diverse set of fixed and rotating composite structures ranging from wind turbine blades, to aircraft wings and helicopter rotor blades.

Applications and Advantages


  • Analysis and design of metallic or composite slender structures:
  • Wind turbine blades
  • Helicopter rotor blades
  • High-aspect ratio aircraft wings
  • Slender flapping wings


  • Ability to model complete aircraft configurations
  • Effectively handles geometrically nonlinear behavior
  • Compatible with CAD tools and other analysis software